As well as coming back to class ready for the new academic year, it’s also a time for moving into new houses and getting to know new housemates. The student rental market has a bad rep, and runners up from last year’s New Enterprise Competition aim to tackle this: Meet HYBR. We spoke with their founder, Hannah to find out what they’ve been up to.
Describe your business to us in a nutshell.
HYBR is an online marketplace for student accommodation that connects students directly to landlords, cutting out the traditional letting agent. Our mission is to provide an affordable landlord solution and support first-time renters throughout their rental journey.
Where did the idea of HYBR come from?
University is some of the best years of young adults’ lives and one hugely exciting aspect of this is moving in with friends. My co-founder and I reflected on our positive rental experiences with Airbnb, and we realised renting a house is a part of the excitement of moving away. So why did it need to be a different story with student rentals?
At the same time, landlords have long been faced with two options: they can pay very little but have to do a huge amount of work; or outsource management to an agent handing over a hefty commission.
So, we started interviewing potential customers, writing up a business plan, researching the competition and the flaws in the student lettings system and we founded HYBR!
What makes you different from your competitors?
We are uniquely student focused. We only offer properties for students, a demographic that require their own rental solution. As recent graduates we understand students aches and pains and how to market most effectively. We go beyond the role of a traditional letting agent by supporting students both practically and emotionally. Helping students to find housemates, providing students with general university advice and educating students on how to respect rented properties.
By providing an affordable landlord solution we also hope to keep rental prices down.
What advice would you give students looking to move into their first shared property with friends?
Consider who the property is managed by, speak to the current tenants about their experience with the agent or landlord and ask them about the condition of the property, read through your tenancy agreement carefully and always go through the inventory at the start of your tenancy.
What support did you receive from the University and the Basecamp Enterprise team?
The Basecamp Enterprise Team are always there if we have any questions and look for ways to support us as we grow. They have directed us towards the SME Internship scheme where I was given two grants to hire two amazing Bristol students. Starting a company can be a lonely affair so it has been great to work with people so early on at HYBR.
What are your top tips for budding entrepreneurs?
Speak to everyone about your idea, spend time networking and say yes to as many opportunities as you can. Take advantage of all the programmes, grants and incubators out there which support young entrepreneurs. For example: The New Enterprise Competition; The Creator Fund; Tata Varsity Pitch; Princes Trust schemes and many more. I also think it is important to have a mentor who you can check in with regularly to discuss your strategy and keep you focused on your goals.
Any final words?
I have been really taken aback by how helpful other founders and business owners have been to me, and I am keen to help any others that could benefit from this too.
Where can we find you?
HYBR took part in the Expression of interest stage before applying to the Growth stage of the New Enterprise Competition.
This stage gives you the opportunity to pair up with an experienced mentor and access business advisers who can help you grow your business ready for the competition which opens in March.
The Growth stage of the competition is open to final years and graduates only. You can apply now here.